During the 1830s and 1840s, Samuel Morse had a workshop in Relay, a community near the Patapsco River, where he developed the single-wire telegraph system.
Unable to obtain funding in the private sector to support his research, Morse appealed to Congress for money to develop the telegraph. In 1843, Congress appropriated $30,000 to create a 38-mile experimental telegraph line from Baltimore to Washington.
Morse initially planned to dig a trench and bury the telegraph line. (In the 1880s, when Thomas Edison developed his electric distribution system in New York, he also initially chose burying wires in tar-filled trenches).
The rocky geography in the area through Patapsco State Park to Ellicott City made trench-digging prohibitively difficult. Morse’s Plan B was to elevate the telegraph line off the ground by stringing it to a series of poles stuck in the ground.
This area had the first telegraph–later telephone–poles.